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Italian Meatballs

This recipe makes about 22 meatballs.  Yes, it’s a bit of work, but the result is a sublimely textured and flavored meatball.  Best if simmered in tomato sauce after it’s baked.  I usually ask a butcher to do a custom grind for me of equal parts beef, pork and turkey, but you can add veal instead of the turkey if you like veal.  A food processor and a stand mixer are critical to getting the right texture for all of the ingredients.  If you prep the ingredients in the right order, you only have to clean the food processor once at the end, instead of between each of the ingredients.


2 lbs. ground meat
2 large sweet onions
4 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tbs. fresh oregano
4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 jumbo (3 extra large) eggs
1/4-1/2 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ loaf of Italian, Ciabatta or home style white bread
Salt & Pepper


Prepare all of the ingredients:

  • Cut the cheese into approximately 1 inch chunks.   With the knife blade inserted, turn the food processor on (not pulse), and drop the chunks into the bowl through the feeding tube.  Process until the cheese is very finely chopped.  Empty into a large bowl.
  • Cut or tear the bread into 1-2 inch pieces, dump into the food processor bowl with the knife and process until the bread is very finely chopped.  Empty into a large bowl.
  • Add a teaspoon of salt, and xix the bread crumb and cheese together.
  • Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk together.  Add this to the bread crumb and cheese and mix it together.
  • Peel the garlic cloves, and drop them into the food processor with the knife.
  • Chop the celery and onions into 1-2 inch chunks and drop them into the food processor with the knife.  Process until the vegetables are very finely chopped.  They will get a bit watery.
  • Chop the oregano.
  • In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil, and when it heats, add the oregano and the red pepper flakes, making sure you are ready to stir quickly, and then add the vegetables immediately, stirring up the garlic and herb so it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan.
  • Sauté the vegetables until they are just finished releasing their liquid.
  • Add the vegetables to the bowl and mix thoroughly.

Make the meatballs:

  • Put the meat into the stand mixer with the mixing blade, and add the vegetables.
  • Very slowly, a few pulses at a time, until the meat and vegetables are thoroughly combined.  
  • Using an ice cream scoop (approximately 2-1/4 inch size), scoop the meatballs onto a low sided tray, spacing them evenly.  A standard aluminum tray should hold the entire batch.
  • Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes, until the meatballs are golden brown on the top.  No need to turn them, you won’t see the browning in the sauce anyway.
  • Let them cool, and freeze if you want them for a future purpose, or simmer them in tomato sauce if you can’t stand to wait.  You can use a good quality marinara sauce out of a jar, your grandmother’s long simmered Sunday Sauce, or a quick marinara sauce you make yourself.

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